Rafael Nadal made the most of his 800th career match dispatching countryman Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the inaugural Rio Open.
The match was also Nadal’s first since having to withdraw from Buenos Aires last week with a back/stomach issues.
“I’m happy to be back in competition,” said Nadal who was down a break 2-0 in the second. “I had to face a player that’s been playing for several weeks on clay courts. I have to improve some details, but I played better than I practiced and that’s positive.
“Latin America is very special for me, I feel like home. The people are great to me and it’s a pleasure to be back in Brazil. I hope I can come more often.”
According to the ATP, Nadal (670-130) is just the sixth active player to have played at least 800 singles matches along with Roger Federer, Tommy Haas, Lleyton Hewitt, David Ferrer and Nikolay Davydenko.
Nadal has won his 24 matches on clay since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo final. Next for Nadal is a another countryman, Albert Montanes.
Fellow Spaniard and second seed David Ferrer also advance but Nicolas Almagro was upset by Alexandr Dolgopolov. Nadal has the day off today while Ferrer is back on court against Federico Delbonis.
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